On the Spanish Navarra circuit, the same location the team had performed its winter preparations several months ago, Sébastien Loeb Racing confirmed its potential so often shown this year in FIA GT Series. First it was a third consecutive victory in the qualifying race for Sébastien Loeb and Alvaro Parente, complemented by a great comeback from teammates Mike Parisy and Andreas Zuber, finishing fifth after starting 18th!
Then it was on to the championship race where the two cars finished in the top two positions ! The Alsacian team therefore confirmed the breadth of its qualities. The team’s excellent performance on the Iberian peninsula comes at a perfect time to recognize the hard work and determination put forth by the entire team led by Dominique Heintz and Sébastien Loeb.
Andreas Zuber - McLaren MP4-12C #10, 5th qualifying race and 2nd championship race: « Fantastic! After a difficult qualifying session, Mike laid it all out on the line in the first race. He had a great start and first lap to finally hand me the car in 13th place (after starting 18th). The car was incredible this weekend and I was able to finish in fifth place. For the championship race, I got a really good start and got close to the pit wall to make passes, ending up behind Sébastien. We stayed together for several laps. I was relatively easy to follow him and we had good pace until my tire puncture which cost us 8 or 9 seconds. I’m very happy with the result, especially for the team who did a great job as usual.. »
Mike Parisy- McLaren MP4-12C #10, 5th qualifying race and 2nd championship race : « Our car was perfect ! The team worked really well, as usual. The qualifying race was a little dicey for us because we started 18th. I didn’t have a choice, I had to attack from the start in order to reach the middle of the pack…by forcing my way a little. Andreas and I, we complemented each other perfectly, always in a position to attack. We showed our consistency, experience, and speed. We’ve been unlucky since the start of the season, but not this weekend. To finally be able to express ourselves in the best of ways is something that gives me great joy. Thanks to the entire team. »
As the cars on the grid get ready for the first race, rain soaks the Navarra track and forces teams to change from slicks to rain tires. As the starting lights go out, the drivers launch into the unknown. For Alvaro Parente, the single reconnaissance lap was enough. The Portugese driver has an incredible start and jumps from the second row to the lead. Untouchable in the No.9 Sébastien Loeb Racing Mclaren, he remains alone in the lead until he makes his first pitstop with a 10 second lead !
Behind, things seemed to be off to a bad start for the sister car, but that was without counting on Mike Parisy’s determination. Starting 18th, the Frenchman completes the first lap in 14th then the second in 12th. He is at the heart of a fierce battle with two BMWs, a Mercedes and a Nissan ; wheel to wheel action until the first stops.
The first driver to take over for the Soultz-sous-Forêt based team, Sébastien Loeb, rejoins the track with an eight second lead after a perfectly managed pitstop from his team. The same for his teammate, Andreas Zuber, who takes over for Mike Parisy, 10th after exiting the pits. The driver of the No.10 McLaren is full throttle. He passes the two BMWs and an Audi. Even the reappearance of rain can’t stop the Austrian driver who now has a Mercedes and two Audis in his sights. As he overtakes these competitors, Andi makes his way to the top five, just before the checkered flag.
For the third time in five tries since the start of the season, the Parente/Loeb duo have won the qualifying race in the FIA GT Series, and therefore pole position for the following championship race.
With a perfectly timed start, Sébastien Loeb is quickly joined by teammate Andy Zuber, who takes three positions before the exit of the first corner ! With a clear track ahead of them, the two McLarens run away from the pack. No competitor can challenge their pace, to the point that after 15 minutes, the Sébastien Loeb Racing parade has a 7 second lead on the third place car. With each lap, Sébastien and Andy hammer the nail in just a bit more. Even a puncture that would penalise Andi before his first stop doesn’t allow his chasers to catch up !
As soon as the pitstop window is closed, the No.9 McLaren, now at the hands of Alvaro Parente, is still the leader ahead of Mike Parisy in the No.10. Although the Frenchman is closely followed by an Audi, it doesn’t take long for him to widen the gap to 10 seconds.
At the end of this nearly flawless race, Sébastien Loeb Racing takes its first 1-2 finish in the FIA GT Series after dominating the event: Loeb/Parente takes the win, with Zuber/Parisy second.
Sébastien Loeb Racing